Radical Hospitality Theater Turns On Desire In Salt Lake City

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A Streetcar Named Desire ‘pops up’ this weekend and if you don’t get your butt in a seat by March 28, you’ll surely miss one of the most memorable evenings of spring. The dinner theater-in-the- round is the brainchild of a new non-profit calling themselves Radical Hospitality Theater and they’re in the mood to heat up the drama scene in Utah. The Tennessee Williams’ play (made famous by Marlon Brando’s onscreen howls of “STELLLLA” in the Academy Award-winning film) is rife with adult themes from spousal abuse to rape and a swift departure from the G-Rated musicals local talent and audiences have been regularly handed over the past two decades. “The disillusion, the struggle with ego, and the lies we tell ourselves and others just trying to survive “Life.” It’s powerful. It’s earth shaking stuff, really,” Producer Tara Norton told the City Weekly. “This cast is bringing that to the table and doing this Pulitzer Prize winner and Oscar winner justice.”

RHT’s main purpose is to challenge audiences and talent. And they did just that at Thursday’s preview. The rented space in the Gateway is an open canvas where guests gather round to listen to everyday people carryon- they fight, they lie, they cry and they dream. And we’re eavesdropping. Careful what you listen to. Streetcar is not for the squeamish as my prim and proper British friend quickly discovered. The cast as a whole is terrific while Deena Marie Manzanares’ Blanche DuBois is riveting. Sila Agavale held his own in the role of Mitch, Blanche’s conflicted suitor but Aaron Adams as Stanley Kowalski is a bit too much like a Calvin Klein underwear model to be completely believable as the base, bowery boy Stanley Kowalski. Nonetheless this really is a vehicle for Manzanares.

Photo by Jill Adler

Photo by Jill Adler

Dinner began with a roasted pepper soup before the lights went up and the actors moved onstage. We were well into the third course of JT Culinary Events/Chef J Looney’s ‘dirty noodles’ when Blanche entered. To have all of this happening at once might sound awkward but the only thing unusual was the silence between scenes. The audience didn’t know whether to clap so we stayed quiet which was actually refreshing. The continual morphing from moment to moment was like an elaborate dance. The silence was appropriate; it held the tension whereas clapping would bring us out of their world.

When you come, plan to stay a while; you’re a dinner guest in the Kowalski house. The eve runs long with two short intermissions but this immersive combination of food, art and thought is exhilarating. I can’t wait to see what else comes out of RHT.

 

A Streetcar Named Desire

 General Admission March 20th-22nd & 26th-28th 7:30 p.m.

Dinner Theater March 20th, 21st & 27th, 28th 7 p.m.

Gateway Mall

116 S. Rio Grande St. Salt Lake City, Ut. 84101

The Old Anthropologie Space

GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET:
$25.00

DINNER THEATER:
$110.00 – with wine/beer pairings
$ 85.00 – food only


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